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Old 26-10-2011, 08:14   #1
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Short-Hopping from UK to Nova Scotia in Summer

I do not have a great deal of blue water experience but many years of inshore and great lake sailing plus some extended cruises to the Azores from Holland and a circumnavigation of Britain.

I am returning to Canada after three years in the UK and need to get my boat, a Vancouver 28, home to Halifax. I have had a number of quotes for shipping her of around $10000 to $12000 which for me is a lot of money (67 and on a pension) I have entertained the thought of sailing her from Scotland to Shetland Isles, Faroes, Iceland, Greenland, Labrador, Newfoundland and thence to NS. Often not more than 2 days apart except for the Greenland to Labrador leg. How practical is such a passage in summer? I would be interested to hear from people who have done it. Also is there a better route? Eg. from Ireland.

I don't think I could undertake a forty day passage across the Southern Atlantic then the long haul up the US coast. I have never tested myself in such a condition of isolation but I thought hopping two days at a time with rests inbetween would be much more manageable.
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Old 26-10-2011, 14:02   #2
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Re: Short-Hopping from UK to Nova Scotia in Summer

I suggest that you begin with carefully studying the Nort Atlantic Pilot Charts, to be downloaded (for free!) there: Maritime Safety Information

You will see the average wind direction and speed, the minimum ice limit around Greenland, the average percentages of gales and of waves exceeding 12 feet...

About the passage from Iceland to Kap Farvel (S tip of Greenland), my edition (5th, 2004) of "Ocean Passages for the World" says:
Magnetic field. The directive force of the earth's magnetic field is weak and the values of the magnetic variation change rapidly along this and other routes from Kap Farvel. Furthermore, local magnetic anomalies have been reported in the vicinities of Jan Mayen and Iceland, particularly in depths of less than 135m(...).
Alain
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Old 26-10-2011, 14:11   #3
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Re: Short-Hopping from UK to Nova Scotia in Summer

Why don't you get her delivered to the Caribbean then finish the rest yourself with the help of CF members looking for a sail....
Cheaper and you miss out the 'Solo' bit....
Island hop to Florida then ICW it with hops outside to break the monotony...
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Old 27-10-2011, 08:01   #4
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Re: Short-Hopping from UK to Nova Scotia in Summer

Thanks Hydra, I will look at these Pilot Charts carefully. A cursory glance has made me aware of minimum ice. I was not aware that so much ice remains off the Greenland coast even in mid summer. I presume that that is pack ice and so beyond that one can expect flow ice. Ice is a big problem when single handing, as one has to sleep, if only for 20 min at a time. I can set the radar to detect iceberges and sound the alarm but not ice. Maybe the answer is to cut out Greenland but then the distance and time at sea extends enourmously. I will have much to ponder on and I will look out your book.
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Old 27-10-2011, 08:05   #5
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Re: Short-Hopping from UK to Nova Scotia in Summer

Thanks Boatman, I am not sure that delivery to the Bahamas is cheaper but I will check it out. However, if I am going south then I might perhaps be better off joining ARC and recruiting a crew. Not what I really had in mind though.
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Old 27-10-2011, 08:12   #6
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Re: Short-Hopping from UK to Nova Scotia in Summer

Perhaps if you advertised for crew here on CF you could find one or two eager sailors who would love to join you. Then ice etc becomes less of a risk, and you'll get more rest.

Ever read "The Brendan Voyage"?
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Old 27-10-2011, 08:25   #7
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pirate Re: Short-Hopping from UK to Nova Scotia in Summer

Good suggestion Cormorant...
There's always folk coming on asking for a sail.... maybe there's hardy souls aboard...
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Old 27-10-2011, 08:47   #8
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Re: Short-Hopping from UK to Nova Scotia in Summer

The Vancouver is a fine small yacht, but it would do well to make sure that you are set up for cold climes. It is one thing to assume that only short hops will be required, and that "only 2 days" at sea will be endurable under the expected conditions. However sailing in the higher latitudes is an activity that severely tests your gear (as well as yourself) and doing so alone adds many more dimensions. I have sailed only up to Newfoundland, but you can be sure that, even after very detailed preparations, I had many opportunities to test my repair abilities and gear preparation. Good luck.
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Old 27-10-2011, 08:56   #9
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Re: Short-Hopping from UK to Nova Scotia in Summer

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cormorant View Post
Perhaps if you advertised for crew here on CF you could find one or two eager sailors who would love to join you. Then ice etc becomes less of a risk, and you'll get more rest.

Ever read "The Brendan Voyage"?
+1

I've looked at those Northern routes -- that is some harsh sailing.

Why wouldn't you spend a little more time -- if you're retired and presumably not on a schedule -- and take the "milk run" in the subtropical trades? I think the hardest part of that whole trip would be Biscay.

The longest passage would be probably about three weeks in your boat. You could also join (or shadow) the ARC, so that you wouldn't be out there alone.

I doubt that you would have any difficulty finding someone to go with you. Someone is always looking for blue water miles.
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Old 27-10-2011, 08:59   #10
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Re: Short-Hopping from UK to Nova Scotia in Summer

Here is some first-hand advice about that route:

How To Sail A North Atlantic Circle Via Iceland
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Old 27-10-2011, 13:58   #11
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Re: Short-Hopping from UK to Nova Scotia in Summer

There is some more information in the US Sailing Directions for Greenland & Iceland (Pub. 181), to be downloaded here: Maritime Safety Information

There is an interesting satellite photo of Greenland in p.3. It seems not possible to cruise the East coast of Greenland, because of pack ice even in summer.

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Old 28-10-2011, 15:00   #12
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Re: Short-Hopping from UK to Nova Scotia in Summer

Thanks everyone for the info and pointers to new reading. The stuff from NGIA is amazing I could spend the whole winter working through all of that on my charts. Will let you guys know what transpires.
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Old 06-11-2011, 12:57   #13
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Re: Short-Hopping from UK to Nova Scotia in Summer

Perhaps you might want to take a look at this blog:
Pilgrim's Progress
It narrates the transatlantic and other sailing journeys of a Canadian couple on a Whitby 42.
They provide useful tips about equipment and itineraries. Their stories are interesting and so are the photos.
Cheers and fair winds.
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Old 07-11-2011, 07:14   #14
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Re: Short-Hopping from UK to Nova Scotia in Summer

I would think that a much longer, but much safer and more comfortable route would be Dorset-Vigo-Azores-Guadaloupe and then work your way north to N.S. with the Gulf Stream and the wind on the beam.

Looking at my pilots, I don't think even in June would a single-hander do very well "island-hopping" as the chance of ice or frontal systems smacking you around as you work to windward for 2000 NM (or more, given the "hopping" aspect) would be an easy or a fun task.

The same reasons that make late June a great time to do N.S. to Britain make it hard to contemplate the reverse. By contrast, going SW from western England to the Azores even via the Bay of Biscay is probably the best time of year to be in that memorable body of water. Access to help and rescue is also a big consideration. There's several hundred miles south of Greenland where you are going to be effectively alone out of range of rescue aid, unless a ship is nearby.

I think with two fit and practiced sailors, it would be pretty challenging to accomplish on a 28 footer. I think two reasonably experienced middle-distance sailors could do the trade wind route, however, and have a great summer doing it.
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Old 07-11-2011, 09:45   #15
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Re: Short-Hopping from UK to Nova Scotia in Summer

I agree with Alchemy. It's much easier to go to Tenerife and let yourself be carried across by the tradewinds. That part of the trip will be a pleasant run.

But, you might say, the distance for that leg is about the same as a Poole-Halifax- 2500nm! So why go for a total journey of about 5700 nm, port to port? At five knots, continuously, without ever stopping, it will last about 48 days.

That seems like a long time, but if you were to take the rhumb line, in all likelihood you will be head to wind and tacking. Then the duration will be the same. As we all know, compared to a run, tacking is twice the distance, three times the time and four times the hassle. Unless you don't get westerlies, but that seems unlikely.

So to me, it's clearly the southern route. You'll be just as far from shelter if you were to take rhumb line, but there are big differences: the weather plus there are many cruisers doing that route at this time of the year. It provides company and a sense of security. On the rhumb line you will meet large commercial vessels and pray that they see you. Few ships maintain a full-time watch in that area, in spite of Solas regulations.

A couple of additional notes: The northern route is rough, even in summer. In the western portion, there are many icebergs, notably growlers, partially submerged containers and the weather is cold, damp and foggy. You can come across severe lows and worry a lot. I found navigating in that area highly unpleasant. If you are still not convinced about the merits of the southern route, take a look at Pilgrim's blog, referred to above.

I've crossed Biscay many times, it's usually rough but better in the summer but it's a wild place in winter. Be particularly alert, the weather can change quickly and when it does, you'll get a strong south-westerly wind which later veers to NW. If you are south of 45* N, going east, inside Biscay, to seek shelter is a very bad idea, it's a trap with no way out. Best turn back and head for La Rochelle or grin and bear it and head for Santander or la Coruna.

Last, if you have the time, you should visit the wonderful Spanish Rias, south of La Coruna. Well worth a visit.

Fair winds.
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